Social Media Prospecting is the art of searching the social web, identifying potential prospects for your business, and engaging with them to drive them to your site and ultimately convert them into quality leads for your sales team.
Social media is a power tool that allows businesses to stay in contact with their current and potential customers. Social Media provides a more personal way for a business to engage the public and build their brand's online trust. But for many local businesses, the social media world seems so big and confusing, it's overwhelming. While many have embraced social media, their approach to this form of marketing is elementary at best and usually has a very low ROI (Return of Investment), if any at all.
Social media, done right, can help you delight your current customers and drive new, targeted leads your way as well. Let's take a look at a few things you can begin to implement in your business that will help you strike gold!
With so many options to choose from in social media, the first place to start is deciding which social media platforms you want to use. For the purpose of this blog, we will only hit on what is known as "THE BIG 4": Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In. These, in my opinion, are the 4 main social media sites you should focus on first. So let's take a deeper look into social media prospecting and how we can optimize our use of social media to promote our brand and generate new leads.
Google is the biggest and most powerful search engine in the world. Because of this, in order to get the search results we desire, we must play by their rules. We must stop believing we can beat the system and instead, learn how to use the system to our advantage. Google+ is the platform you will need to understand for more reasons than one. The old Google Places no longer exists, and hasn't for quite some time, and now your "places" or maps location is controlled by your Google+ Business page. This may be the greatest benefit of claiming your Google+ Business page as a local small business. It allows you to verify your business so that it will be ranked in Google Maps, which is how a majority of your potential clients are getting directions to your establishment. But the benefits don't stop there. You can add links to other social profiles, manage reviews, as well as post to your YouTube channel via your "business dashboard". To be successful in social media, you have to be "social", so getting "+1's" is very important in connecting with clients and others in your industry and will also help you increase your exposure.
One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make on Facebook is that they treat their business page as a free "eStore". They forget why people use social media and instead push products at them non-stop...this is a great way to get your page "de-liked" or notifications blocked. After claiming and setting up your Facebook page you need to build and engage your audience. Social media, again, is about being social! Connect with people, engage with them. But remember, this is an extension of your brand, not and extension of your personal Facebook page. Be professional and offer helpful information to those who follow you. You not only want them to read your posts, but share them as well!
While Twitter does not offer "business pages" like some of the other social sites, this fast-paced social media platform has a lot of benefits. By limiting your posts to 140 characters, it forces you to get to the point. Again, pushing product is not what you want to do here either. You want to connect. Twitter is a great way for you to follow industry trends and give fast and timely updates on your brand. You can also use the powerful "retweet" to share tips and tools related to your industry with others who follow you. The "hashtag" or #, was invented by this savvy social media network (which now works on most social media networks as well). This allows your audience to engage in focused conversations about topics that they are interested in. It also offers a way for you to search hashtags, which, if you use correctly, can lead you straight to quality leads!
This business to business social media is often misunderstood by local and small businesses. I have heard many businesses talk about how many "connections" they have made and seem to be very proud of this feat. The problem is, when you ask how many of those "connections" have ever converted into real leads, the number is typically very low, if any at all. That is because they focused on the wrong objective. Let me tell you a little secret: more does not always mean better. When using Linked In, connecting with others in your industry is the first and best place to start. Building relationships across the web to better your industry is what Linked In is all about. By adding value to your industry, it will allow you to gain "trust" from others which, in the long run, will produce more quality leads than any marketing gimmick.
REMEMBER: Social media marketing is not about selling product, it's about selling your brand. If you spend too much time pushing product, you will push people away. People use these networks for a variety of reasons, but reason number one is to connect with others and build relationships. By focusing on adding value to the conversation and building relationships that give, rather than take, your brand will build trust. Trust will open the door to a number of opportunities and allow your business to flourish online like never before. Social media prospecting used correctly over time can turn "likes" into dollars!
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